When the Canadian men’s team competes in the CONCACAF Gold Cup next month, it will be with one of the best young talents in European club football as their main point of reference.
No, not Alphonso Davies, although the Bayern Munich star and last year’s co-winner of the Lou Marsh Awards is expected to be named coach of John Herdman’s 23-man squad for the biennial continental competition.
Not enough Canadian sports fans are talking about Jonathan David, and that’s a shame because the 21-year-old Ottawa native is considered a rising star in global football.
David has had a fabulous single season, starring in Lille OSC winning its first French championship in a decade, putting an end to mega-rich Paris Saint-Germain’s pursuit of a fourth straight title.
David also scored at an alarming rate internationally to help Canada qualify for next year’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Since his national team debut in 2018, David has scored 15 goals in 16 games for his country, a hit rate that any striker in the world would envy.
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Given the way David has been playing lately, it wouldn’t be a big surprise if he overtook Dwayne De Rosario (22 goals in 81 games) as Canada’s all-time top scorer when the Gold Cup is over.
CLOCK | David scores hat trick against Suriname in World Cup qualifier:
David’s remarkable rise represents a major coup for Canadian football that he has rarely seen in the past. A little over three years ago he played as a youth at the Ottawa Ottawa Internationals Soccer Club. Today the world is at the feet of the reserved and quiet-speaking son of Haitian immigrants.
David is part of an exciting “golden generation” of Canadian players who have breathed new life into the long-stagnant national program and have long-suffering fans of the men’s team who believe they will qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986.
The light-footed David joined Lille from Belgium’s KAA Gent last summer, where he scored an impressive 26 goals in 50 games in two seasons. Lille reportedly paid a record $ 35 million transfer fee for David, making him the most expensive Canadian player of all time.
The previous mark was held by Tomasz Radzinski, who scored eleven goals for Everton in the 2002/03 English Premier League.
“He had a lot of good goal positions and was pretty heavily involved, but he just couldn’t seem to get it done. The longer it took, the more worried you got and wondered, ‘Is this guy going to be a giant? Flop?” … There were many of these questions in the first half of the season. But everything turned in the second half of the season, “French football journalist Tom Williams told CBC Sports.
“He scored his first goal in November, until when will Jonathan meet David? ‘ had become a big deal in Lille and in French football, but when it finally broke it felt like that big moment of liberation and it just drove off. “
In fact, David not only scored many goals for Lille, he also scored extremely important ones. He scored twice in the 2-0 win over Olympique Marseille on March 3, the win against PSG on April 3 and the equalizer in an incredible win from behind against Olympique Lyon on April 25.
CLOCK | David is significantly involved in Lille OSC, which secures the title in Ligue 1:
Then, on May 23, on the last day of the season, he opened the gate and won the penalty that led to the decisive goal in the 2-1 win over Angers that sealed the Ligue 1 championship for Lille.
“If you were to make a list of the most influential players for Lille last season, David would be in the top three or four,” said Williams.
“The Octagon”, the final round of the CONCACAF qualification for the World Cup, will start in September.
David wasn’t even born the last time Canada made it this far since preparing for the 1998 World Cup in France. Twenty-four years later, Herdman believes the time has come for fans to gather around the Canadian men’s team.
“The men’s team is the key to connecting this country and giving it an anchor, a rally point,” Herdman said recently. “So many good things happen in our country.”
Jonathan David is one of those good things and if he continues on his current path he will go a long way in bringing Canada back to the World Cup.
CLOCK | Karina LeBlanc explains the men’s World Cup qualification in Canada: